Pharmacologic interventions for the treatment of equine herpesvirus-1 in domesticated horses: A systematic review

Lutz Goehring, David C. Dorman, Klaus Osterrieder, Brandy A. Burgess, Kelsie Dougherty, Peggy Gross, Claire Neinast, Nicola Pusterla, Gisela Soboll-Hussey, David P. Lunn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Equine herpes virus type 1 (EHV-1) infection in horses is associated with upper respiratory disease, neurological disease, abortions, and neonatal death. Review Question: Does pharmacological therapy decrease either the incidence or severity of disease or infection caused by EHV-1 in domesticated horses?. Methods: A systematic review was preformed searching AGRICOLA, CAB Abstracts, Cochrane, PubMed, Web of Science, and WHO Global Health Index Medicus Regional Databases to identify articles published before February 15, 2021. Selection criteria were original research reports published in peer reviewed journals, and studies investigating in vivo use of therapeutic agents for prevention or treatment of EHV-1 in horses. Outcomes assessed included measures related to clinical outcomes that reflect symptomatic EHV-1 infection or virus infection. We evaluated risk of bias and performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions. Results: A total of 7009 unique studies were identified, of which 9 met the inclusion criteria. Two studies evaluated valacyclovir or small interfering RNAs, and single studies evaluated the use of a Parapoxvirus ovis-based immunomodulator, human alpha interferon, an herbal supplement, a cytosine analog, and heparin. The level of evidence ranged between randomized controlled studies and observational trials. The risk of bias was moderate to high and sample sizes were small. Most studies reported either no benefit or minimal efficacy of the intervention tested. Conclusions and Clinical Importance: Our review indicates minimal or limited benefit either as a prophylactic or post-exposure treatment for any of the studied interventions in the mitigation of EHV-1-associated disease outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1892-1905
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.


  • chemotherapy
  • equine
  • equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy
  • herpesvirus-1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary


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